Similar to how Bollywood actor John Abraham debuted on screen in 2012 for the music video of Pankaj Udhas’ timeless hit “Chupke Chupke,” actress Sameera Reddy received her big break in 1997 for the maestro’s “Aur Ahista Kijiye Baatein.”

Following a protracted illness, Pankaj Udhas passed away in Mumbai on Monday at the age of 72. He had been receiving treatment for cancer at a private hospital for a while.

Reddy, who was devastated to learn of the 72-year-old ghazal legend’s cancer death, told IANS that “the most beautiful song… changed my life and launched my career.” I am where I am today because that song made people notice me.”

Reddy portrayed an Indian woman in the music video who falls in love with an Australian man. As the love tale progressed, Pankaj Udhas sang the song.

Reddy recalled how “his melodious and most captivating voice” had shaped her career, saying, “People still remember me from that song.” The loss of a legend today fills me with such sadness. My heart hurts for it. He has been an emotion for our generation and will always be remembered. We shall always remember his music.”

The music video for the song honoring the legend was also posted by the actress on Instagram.

“Today we have lost a legend. ‘Aur Ahista Kijiye Baatien’ changed my life,” Reddy wrote in the caption. Being a part of his generation was a privilege and an honor. We are grateful to Pankaj Udhas Sir for his lovely songs that have touched the hearts of our generation. You will be missed. Peace be with you.”

The late ghazal maestro’s close friend and veteran film exhibitor Manoj Desai of Mumbai’s Maratha Mandir fame also paid tribute to the ghazal legend. The hard reality that his 33-year friend had passed away was not something he was willing to accept.

Desai, who also owns Mumbai’s Gaiety Galaxy, another famous theater, showed his sorrow in a video while crying.

“Pankaj, it’s hard for me to believe that you are no longer with us in this world, as we have spent more than 33 years together,” he said. Everyone who was there enjoyed your ‘Khazana’ music special that you used to perform for cancer patients. Out of respect for you, all ghazal artists, including Bhupendra Singh, Anup Jalota, and numerous other ghazal singers, used to come without any pain. God bless you. I hope you find peace in the afterlife.

Comedian Sunil Pal paid homage to the ghazal maestro by recalling how much of a sport Pankaj Udhas was. He would always laugh away at parodies of ghazals and take them in his stride.

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